Just a quick thought for today:

When we were first converted, we spent much time with a family whose four kids were roughly our own age. I loved hanging around with both parents and children – observing and learning what this new Christian life really meant on a practical level. And they were wonderful teachers.

One day the mother, Marjorie, told me that they had had a fifth child, a little girl. On a Christmas morning, years before, they had bought their older children a wagon as a gift. The toddler stepped into it. It was yanked by one of the other girls, and the little one fell onto its edge, breaking her trachea.

Tragic. Her voice was still full of sorrow as she told me about Heather. But what burned into my mind were her final words:

“As we came home from the hospital, all I remember praying is, ‘Lord, help me not to ask why.’”

I don’t know why I was thinking about this again the other day, but it reminded me of how insufficient our horizontal answers to suffering are. We understand, vertically, why suffering exists – the predictable outcome of a sinful world inhabited by sinful people, under the judgment of a just God.

But individual outworkings of that?

Great mystery.

And not only are our answers inadequate, they are dangerous. We can begin to think our own answers are God’s, and then turn against him in rage because they are not good enough.

May I add, that I think many of the most harmful explanations of our suffering do not come from others, but from ourselves. We are our own worst ‘Job’s Counselors.’

“God ordains a man’s steps. How, then, can he understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Indeed. We can’t.

BUT

Although we often do not understand God’s providence, we can always understand his character. He is good and just and always purposeful. He will never spill the tears of his own children unnecessarily.

That is what we are left with.

And the New Heavens and the New Earth.

It is enough.

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